UofL Sophomore’s Internship Experience Points to a Passion

UofL Sophomore’s Internship Experience Points to a Passion

By: Kristen Dethloff

Some students enter higher education with a clear career path in front of them. Other students are less certain when it comes to their future and use their time in college to explore potential fields or careers. Internships can be an invaluable resource to students looking for direction, and they may be lucky enough to find an internship that clears up the confusion. 


Olivia Roth

Olivia Roth is a sophomore from Owensboro, KY majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. With her expected graduation date in May 2025, she has plenty of time to explore her career options. However, Roth is not one to let an opportunity for work experience pass her by. In the summer of 2022, she completed a 3-month, full-time internship with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security. “I was on the Workforce Planning Team which is a part of HR. It’s a mixture of IO Psychology and HR, but it’s really interesting and I really loved it.”

IO Psychology is the acronym for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, which centers on psychology in the workplace. Roth’s primary responsibilities were to determine the ideal competencies, qualities, knowledge, and skills a candidate should have for a position within the organization. With different positions come different criteria, which also meant Roth was able to dip her toe into IO Psychology research.

Roth secured this internship within a government agency partially by accident but has never looked back. She reports that she was mass-applying for internships on the University Career Center’s job platform and out of more than fifty applications, received only four interviews. “It was offered through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education so I was contracted through them. They were offering a bunch of different internship positions and it was one of the few psychology openings I found so I was fortunate enough to get it.”

Before her summer experience, Roth knew that she wanted to pursue a career in psychology, but she was not quite sure which subfield was the right fit for her. “I’d never considered IO Psychology. I didn’t know what it was before this internship and now I’m really leaning towards pursuing it with a Ph.D. program after I graduate.”

In addition to steering her in a career direction, Roth’s summer internship has impacted other facets of her life. Olivia is also on track to become a Research Assistant with the Psychology Department at UofL after having such a positive experience with the Department of Homeland Security. She is the Vice President of the Kentucky Public Health Association as well as a member of the Commonwealth Policy Coalition on campus. Within both of these organizations, she is spearheading movements and influencing policies about work roles, which she believes stems from her internship experience.

“I would 100% recommend it to anyone. I think I’ve learned invaluable things through my internship, things I would never have experienced even throughout my whole career. It really opened my eyes and, I mean, it changed my career path. Also, I got to talk to a lot of different people across the department, the agency… I even got to talk directly to the director.” What advice does Roth have for fellow students when it comes to experiential learning? “Don’t be discouraged by the nos. You just have to wait and look for the one that is the right fit for you. It’s easy to fall down that path and get discouraged, but you’ll end up where you belong. I believe I got the best internship for me.”